The Effects of Job Satisfaction and Work Experience on Employee-Desire for Empowerment: A Comparative Study in Canada and India
Gill, Amarjit, Sharma, Suraj P., Mathur, Neil, Bhutani, Smita, International Journal of Management
The paper examines the effects of job satisfaction and work experience on employee-desire for empowerment. Restaurant industry employees from the Lower mainland area of British Columbia, Canada and the Punjab area of India were surveyed to assess their perceptions of job satisfaction, work experience, and desire to be empowered at their places of work. Results suggest that job satisfaction and work experience enhance the employee-desire for empowerment in both countries - Canada and India. The practical implication of this study is that employees who exhibit job satisfaction and work experience behaviors are more likely to heighten their desires to be empowered, regardless of cultural context. The findings help to explain failures in organizational efforts to empower workers by demonstrating the critical role of job satisfaction and work experience behaviors in heightening employee-desire for empowerment.
The purpose of this paper is to test the relationship between job satisfaction, work experience, and employee-desire for empowerment. Issues of employee empowerment are germane to service organizations (Chebat and Kollias, 2000; Honegger and Appelbaum, 1998). The term "empowerment" in management literature appears to have come into general usage in the early 1980s (Collins, 1999). Individuals have been found to have an inherent need for empowerment, i.e., the capacity to influence and control their environment and strive for greater self-determination (Von-Dran, 1996; Gill et al, 2010, p. 264).
Empowerment is viewed as an important feature of successful management, as well as a way to gain competitive advantage (Al-Mbaidin and Yousef, 2010, p. 37). It has been found that the empowerment provides organizational benefits such as increment in employee contribution to the organization by providing a quality customer service, reduction in employee job stress (Gill, Biger, and Bhutani, 2010), etc. Unfortunately, efforts to empower employees have failed in a large number of organizations due to a variety of factors such as employee reluctance to be empowered and management reluctance to empower employees (Darling, 1996; Honegger and Appelbaum, 1998; Messmer, 1990). This failure in efforts to empower employees led to the concept of "employee desire for empowerment" (Honegger and Appelbaum, 1 998) as a key success factor to be considered both practically and empirically (Gill et al, 2010, p. 264).
Customer-contact service employees (CCSEs) play a boundary-spanning role in the hospitality industry where they interact with many individuals from inside (fellow employees and managers) and outside (guests) of their organizations (Gill et al, 2010, p. 264). This large role set requires CCSEs to satisfy the frequently distinct needs and expectations of multiple parties (Gill et al, 2006). In addition, the distinct features of services (e.g., perishability) create challenges for CCSEs (Sommers et al, 1992).
The challenges that CCSEs face due to (a) the distinct features of services, and (b) pressure to meet the distinct needs and expectations of customers and management to improve service quality may reduce CCSEs' desire for empowerment. Since excellent customer service requires employees to be empowered to make many service decisions independently and on the spot, reduced employee desire for empowerment does not favor the interests of hospitality organizations (Gill et al, 2010, p. 264). Therefore, it is important to find strategies that can help enhance employees' desire for empowerment (EDFE). Employee job satisfaction and work experience hold a great promise for advancing EDFE in the hospitality industry.
Although, research on Job Satisfaction started in the last century when Herzberg et al. (1959) formulated an influential Dual-Factor, or "Hygiene-Motivator" theory, there has been no research conducted to test the relationships between job satisfaction and employee-desire for empowerment. However, Gill et al (2010) have tested relationship between transformational leadership and employee-desire for empowerment by collecting data from Canadian and Indian hospitality industries. In addition, McDermott, Laschinger, and Shamian (1995) have tested relationship between work experience and empowerment. This study contributes to the literature on job satisfaction, work experience, and employeedesire for empowerment. The results can be generalized to the hospitality industry.
Job Satisfaction, Work Experience, and Employee-Desire for Empowerment
Job satisfaction is defined as the individuals' attitudes toward the various aspects of their jobs as well as towards the job in general. Locke (1969) defines job satisfaction as the pleasurable emotional state that results from the appraisal of one's job as achieving or facilitating the achievement of one's job values. The perceived job satisfaction creates positive feelings among employees, which in rum, represents positive emotional reaction towards desire for empowerment.
Work experience, in the context of this study, is defined as an experience that an employee receives during working in a job. For example, customer-contact service employees get an opportunity to work at different stations such as waiter/waitress, host/hostess, busboy, bar attendants, etc., in the restaurant services industry. Once employees start working on different work stations, they start to desire to have some control over work; that is, employee-desire for empowerment tends to increase.
Employee-Desire for empowerment, in context of this study, is defined as the extent to which an employee desires to be empowered to make decisions and be responsible for the outcome of those decisions. For example, a customer-contact service employee (CCSE) may desire to be empowered to handle customer complaints related to food items in the restaurant services industry. Improvement in employee-desire for empowerment encourages employees to take additional responsibilities in the workplace (Stanton, 1993). Employees with a strong desire to be empowered are less likely to be deterred by obstacles and are more likely to work hard to overcome them in order to become empowered (Honegger andAppelbaum, 1998). If two employees have similar perceptions of control but vary in their desire for empowerment, the employee with the greater desire for empowerment is more likely to attempt to overcome barriers, be successful in his or her attempts, and eventually become empowered (Gill et al, 2010, p. 264).
Research on Indian work culture indicates that high power distance, collectivism, and affective reciprocity are major cultural values of Indian employees (Kumar and Sankaran, 2007). It is well established over several decades that India ranks relatively high on power distance (e.g., Hofstede, 1984; Christie et al, 2003). India's historical caste system contributed to high cultural power distance. For example, people born into the lower castes did not have the right to have meals with those born into in the upper castes, and were despised by them. Brahmins considered themselves superior to all other classes. Although this is still the case to some extent, the gap has decreased over time. India's former status as a colony of the United Kingdom for approximately 100 years may have also played a role (Gill et al, 2010, p. 264). This cultural power distance may cause to lower the employee-desire for empowerment.
The perception of job satisfaction leads to job involvement in which employees start to involve in their work roles. Scott (2009) defines job involvement as the degree to which a person is identified psychologically with his/her work or the importance of work in his/her total self-image and the degree to which a person's work performance affects his/her self-esteem. Job involvement creates a need for job autonomy and an employee starts to desire for empowerment. Because the perception of job satisfaction creates positive feelings/attitudes toward an organization, we should see an improvement in the perceived employee-desire for empowerment. In addition, length of service increases work experience and expertise because CCSEs get more chances to perform different roles such as waiter/waitress, host/hostess, busboy, bar attendants, etc., in the restaurant industry. Thus, CCSEs start feeling a need for empowerment to handle customer service complaints, which in turn, enhances employee-desire for empowerment. McDermott, Laschinger, and Shamian (1 995) found a positive relationship between work experience and empowerment. Therefore, employee-desire for empowerment should be positively related to job satisfaction among CCSEs and the work experience of CCSEs, regardless of level of cultural power distance.
This study utilized survey research, a descriptive field study design. To test the hypotheses, p < .05 significance level was used to accept or reject a null hypothesis.
In order to remain (for comparison and reference reasons) consistent with previous research, measurement instruments pertaining to job satisfaction and employee empowerment were taken from Hartline and Ferrell (1996). In addition, the work experience (WE) was used as a control variable.
All the scale items were pre-tested for construct validity. Respondents were asked to indicate their agreement with each item (statement), using a five-point Likert scale providing an interval level of measurement.
Work experience (WE) refers to how long the subjects have worked in the service industry. Work experience was measured by a single item that asked respondents (employees) to indicate the number of years they have been working in the service industry. Categorized alternative responses were: i) 0-2 Years, ii) 3-5 Years, iii) 6-10 Years, and iv) 11 Years and over.
Job Satisfaction (JS) is operationalized as the extent to which service employees are satisfied with job security, pay, supervisor, organization's policies, advancement opportunities. Hartline and Ferrell (1996) used eight items scale for their studies. Based on CFA loading scores, five items were selected to measure the "JS" variable. Scale items were reworded to apply to CCSEs in the hospitality industry and the reliability of these re- worded items was re-tested. The Cronbach alpha on the responses of the thirty employees who participated in the pre-test of the above scale items was 0.85.
Employee-Desire for empowerment (EDFE) is operationalized as the extent to which CCSEs i) use their judgment in solving problems, ii) want to handle problems, iii) trust their judgment, and iv) want freedom in their work. Hartline and Ferrell (1996) used the eight-item tolerance-of-freedom scale, which measures the degree to which managers encourage initiative, give employees freedom, and trust employees to use their own judgment. Based on confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) loading scores, four items were selected to measure the "EDFE" variable. Scale items were reworded to apply to CCSEs in the hospitality industry and the reliability (internal consistency) of these re-worded items was re-tested. The Cronbach alpha on the responses of the thirty employees who participated in the pre-test of the above scale items was 0.86.
Although Honegger and Appelbaum (1998) studied strategies that improve EDFE in the service industry, a very little research to date has focused specifically on the hospitality industry. Canada and India were chosen as the research sites in order to provide an international contrast in levels of power distance, since India ranks relatively high and Canada ranks relatively low on that cultural dimension. Therefore, the focal population is comprised of restaurant (fast food and full service) service workers in the Lower Mainland region of Canada and the Punjab region of India. Given that the population is "abstract" (i.e., it was not possible to obtain a list of all members of the focal population) (Huck, 2008, p. 101), a non-probability (purposive) sample was obtained. In a purposive sample, participants are screened for inclusion based on criteria associated with members of the focal population. In this case, only restaurant service employees in the two focal geographic regions were included in the sample.
An exhaustive list of restaurant employees' names and phone numbers in the Lower Mainland and Punjab areas was created to enable trained volunteers to contact, screen, and invite qualified service workers to participate. Survey questionnaire bundles coupled with an instruction sheet were provided to participating volunteers for distribution. The survey did not need to be translated into Punjabi for the Indian participants since restaurants in the region hire CCSEs who can read, write, and speak English. The instruction sheet indicated that participants could contact the researchers by telephone and/or email regarding any questions or concerns they might have about the research.
More than 1,200 surveys were distributed and 332 were returned (137 from Canada and 195 from India), 13 of which were not usable, for an overall response rate of roughly 28%.
Participants were assured that their names would not be disclosed and that confidentiality would be strictly maintained. In addition, participants were explicitly asked not to disclose their names on the questionnaire, and were free to decline responding to any survey question that they felt might reveal their identity.
Analysis and Results
Data Analysis Methods
Table 1 shows descriptive statistics on job satisfaction, employee-desire for empowerment, and work experience.
Measures of central tendency, variance, skewness, and kurtosis were calculated on responses to all of the items. Skewness measures for all of the items were within the range of: -0.45 1 to -1 . 143, which is considered to be an excellent range for most research that requires using statistics appropriate to normal distributions. Therefore, we used statistics that assume scalar values and symmetric distributions to test our hypotheses.
Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) on the nine items was performed. Using Principal Components, as an extraction method, followed by Varimax rotation of components with Eigenvalue greater than 1 .0, the data "unfolded" into two factors. These two factors explained 74.97% of the variance in the nine items (see Table 2), and all of the items loaded on the expected factors (see Table 3).
The Relations of Job Satisfaction and Work Experience with Employee-Desire for Empowerment
Overall, positive relationships between i) JS and EDFE and ii) WE and EDFE (see Table 4) were found; that is, both the job satisfaction and work experience enhance the perceived employee-desire for empowerment of CCSEs in the Canadian and Indian hospitality industries.
Note that around 33.30 (R2= 0.330) of the variance in the degree of employee EDFE can be explained by the degree of JS and WE in the Canadian and Indian hospitality industries (see Table 4). As shown in Table 4, the ANOVA's test is also significant at 0.000.
Noting that the size of the sample (with a predominance of Indian restaurant workers), might affect the results. We first tested to see if JS and EDFE were significantly different between Canadian and Indian CCSEs. Using one-way ANOVAs, we found that perceived JS did differ between the 2 types of CCSEs (sig. = 0.000) and perceived EDFE did differ between the 2 types of CCSEs (sig. = 0.000).
We then re-tested the hypotheses for subsets of the sample.
Positive relationships between i) JS and EDFE and ii) WE and EDFE (see Table 5) were found; that is, both the job satisfaction and work experience enhance the perceived employee-desire for empowerment of CCSEs in the Canadian hospitality industry.
Note that around 11.90 (R^sup 2^ = 0.119) of the variance in the degree of employee EDFE can be explained by the degree of JS and WE in the Canadian hospitality industry (see Table 5). As shown in Table 5, the ANOVA's test is also significant at 0.000.
Positive relationships between i) JS and EDFE and ii) WE and EDFE (see Table 6) were found; that is, both the job satisfaction and work experience enhance the perceived employee-desire for empowerment of CCSEs in the Indian hospitality industry.
Note that around 1 8.40 (R2 = 0. 1 84) of the variance in the degree of employee EDFE can be explained by the degree of JS and WE in the Indian hospitality industry (see Table 6). As shown in Table 6, the ANOVA's test is also significant at 0.000.
Discussion and Implications
The main purpose of this study was to determine whether the improvement in the degree of job satisfaction and work experience enhance the perceived employee-desire for empowerment of CCSEs in the Canadian and Indian hospitality industries. This was done by surveying a sample of restaurant services employees from the Lower Mainland area of British Columbia, Canada and the Punjab area of India. These employee perceptions and judgments are the basis of our findings that job satisfaction and work experience enhance the perceived employee-desire for empowerment in both countries - Canada and India.
Since the hospitality industry is identified with high levels of customer-contact, it is imperative to explore all potential human resource management practices that may enhance employee-desire for empowerment because empowered employees can improve the efficiency of the hospitality organization by improving customer service quality. CCSEs play a boundary-spanning role in the hospitality industry where they interact with many individuals from inside (fellow employees and managers) and outside (guests) their organization. This large role set requires CCSEs to satisfy frequently variegated needs and expectations of multiple parties, and only one of those parties is their manager/ supervisor. This requires the employee to perform pro-social behavior and often times, demonstrate dedication to the hospitality organizations (Gill and Mathur, 2007, p. 332). Employee empowerment is one of the factors that encourage employee pro-social behavior. Therefore, it is important for the hospitality managers/supervisors to improve employee job satisfaction because it enhances the employee-desire for empowerment. In addition, it important to improve employee retention since the length of service enhances the employee-desire for empowerment.
In conclusion, both the job satisfaction and work experience enhance employee desire for empowerment in Canadian and Indian hospitality industries. Therefore, Canadian and Indian hospitality organizations should improve job satisfaction and employee retention since job satisfaction and work experience enhance employee desire for empowerment.
Limitations and Practical Implications
The present study asks for responses from fixed format, set-questions survey tools, which could direct questions to the exclusion of providing additional input. A mail/drop off survey data collection method contributed to a low response rate or response error. Some favorable techniques such as including postage paid mail, sending a cover letter, providing a deadline for returning the survey, and promising anonymity were applied in order to increase the response rate. Maturation of participants can also affect the survey response rate. Maturation of participants, in the context of this research, means that some of the research participants may be on holidays. However, a short study period (four weeks) limited any negative effects from maturation.
The practical implication of this study is that employees who exhibit job satisfaction and work experience behaviors are more likely to heighten their desires to be empowered, regardless of cultural context.
Recommendations for Future Research
Although this study clearly shows that job satisfaction enhances employee desire for empowerment, additional research issues and questions must be addressed. The additional variables that should be researched include:
* The degree to which managers understand the consequences of empowerment,
* The degree to which managers understand the job satisfaction of their employees, and
* The degree to which managers understand the desire of their employees to be empowered.
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Trident University International
Suraj P. Sharma
GTB National College, India
Simon Fraser University, Canada
Panjab University, India
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Publication information: Article title: The Effects of Job Satisfaction and Work Experience on Employee-Desire for Empowerment: A Comparative Study in Canada and India. Contributors: Gill, Amarjit - Author, Sharma, Suraj P. - Author, Mathur, Neil - Author, Bhutani, Smita - Author. Journal title: International Journal of Management. Volume: 29. Issue: 1 Publication date: March 2012. Page number: 190+. © International Journal of Management Dec 2008. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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